President Aquino orders intensified operations to rescue four hostages

President Benigno S. Aquino III has directed Acting Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief, Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director Ricardo Marquez, to conduct appropriate military and law enforcement operations to rescue the four hostages who were kidnapped from Samal Island last year, a Palace official said on Monday.

Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Marithes Flor were abducted by members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) from the Holiday Ocean View Samal Resort on September 21 last year.

The ASG has threatened to behead one of the hostages on April 25 at 3 p.m. if the government fails to pay the ransom demanded by the bandits.

“Maximum efforts are being exerted by a joint AFP-PNP task group to effect the rescue of four hostages who were kidnaped in Samal island after the ASG announced the possible beheading of one of its hostages. This follows intensified anti-ASG operations in Basilan and Sulu in recent weeks,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.

Secretary Coloma said an estimated 400 Abu Sayyaf members and supporters are reportedly involved in the kidnapping.

He said the President also ordered local authorities to cooperate with the AFP-PNP Task Force.

“The local authorities are instructed to extend cooperation to the joint task group and ensure the safety of citizens in the affected communities,” said Coloma. PND (jm)